All new electricity meters installed for residential and small business customers in NSW need to be advanced digital meters (sometimes called ‘smart’ meters). The older-style non-digital basic or accumulation meters will be phased out and replaced with digital meters over time.
This rule change came out of the Australian Energy Market Commission’s Power of Choice review of the National Energy Market. It is aimed at giving customers more control over their electricity use by giving them access to new products and services.
What does this mean for customers?
- Energy retailers are now responsible for installing meters for residential and small business customers, not distributors as it was before 4 December 2017.
- Digital meters will become part of any new arrangement a customer has with their retailer, such as when a customer purchases an energy service that requires a new meter.
- Digital meters will be installed whenever new or replacement meters are required.
- Retailers may roll out digital meters to individual or groups of customers, but customers may choose to opt out if their current meter is working provided they haven’t signed a contract stipulating otherwise.
More frequent usage data
Digital meters provide information about electricity usage at least every half hour. This gives customers the opportunity to monitor their usage easily and potentially make changes to reduce their use.
No more estimated usage readings
Digital meters can be read remotely, which means the end of estimated reads that happen when a meter reader cannot physically read the meter for whatever reason.
Choose how often you get your bills
Since meters can be read remotely, customers can request bills monthly, instead of quarterly. This makes budgeting easier and gives customers the opportunity to reduce their usage more quickly if they receive a higher than expected bill.
Faster switching and transfers
Digital meters also have the potential to make it quicker and easier to switch retailers and disconnect and reconnect when customer move house. However, the NSW Government has placed a temporary moratorium on remote connections and disconnections because of safety concerns.
Things to be aware of
Time of Use (TOU) tariffs
Digital meters allow retailers to introduce TOU charges. Customers who are able to choose when to use appliances and other devices that use a lot of energy are likely to be better off on a TOU tariff, but others may not be. Customers do not have to go onto a TOU contract just because they have a digital meter.
Mobile signal needed for remote connections
Digital meters use the mobile phone network to transmit a signal. This means that customers who live in an area with weak or no mobile signal may not be able to get the advantages of remote reads and automatic connections and disconnections when they become available.
For more information about the metering reforms visit the AER website.
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